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Admissions Director Q&A: Judi Byers of Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management

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CA: That is an interesting parallel. There is much to be gained from putting yourself both in new climates and also new cities. Back to Johnson, what are you most excited about? The biggest development, change or event that’s on tap in the year ahead?

JB: We just welcomed our class of 2020. Which the team and I and the community have been really focused on enrolling for the last year. One of the things that I am especially proud of is the strengthening in representation of women that we have in this year’s class of 2020.

We have a high water mark of 33 percent of women represented, the strongest representation of women that we’ve seen in the two year program in the history. I am especially pleased with that. We had a record attendance at this year’s annual Forte conference. The recruitment of women, and really underrepresented populations, was something that the team and I really focused on, so we are excited to be welcoming this class with strengthening representation of women, and our students from underrepresented backgrounds.

CA: It is great to see you moving the needle with regard to gender parity. So the greatest percentage of women in classrooms is one exciting change in the year ahead. What else would you like to highlight?

JB: I think one of the things that would be helpful to share and highlight is our New York City curriculum. Which we actually developed and launched during the 2017 academic year with our elective offerings.

In fall of 2017, we opened the Roosevelt Island campus in Manhattan, which is home to our Johnson Cornell Tech MBA as well as some of the other degree offerings that are a part of the Cornell Tech campus and experience. As part of that, we designed a series of New York City based academic experiences and courses for our students in our two-year and our one-year program based in Ithaca, New York.

We launched a series of what we call “weekend intensives”, where students are effectively taking classes from Friday through Saturday. They travel down to the Manhattan campus on Thursdays. It is a really nice opportunity to not only collaborate with their Cornell Tech peers, but also to be able to network with some of the industry professionals and lecturers that we bring to campus to be part of the course instruction for these weekend intensives. We offered courses in designing data projects, design thinking, digital leadership and cultural markets, and leading agile innovation. We are also looking at finding ways for our Ithaca students, who are often times pursuing what I would consider to be more traditional academic and professional pathways, to really delve more deeply into the tech space.

In the spring, we launched two seven week intensives in the areas of digital marketing, as well as fin tech. These give our Ithaca residential students a greater opportunity to delve more deeply into these two particular subject areas.

The tech campus is part of a really innovative vision we have to offer, a one school, two campus model of MBA program delivery. Cornell’s heart and main campus will always be here in Ithaca. But the opportunity to really allow MBA students to pursue the best of what Ithaca has to offer, with the opportunities in New York, allows students to delve into some of the professional areas that are particularly cutting edge right now.

Read on to learn more about the one school, two campus transformation, and what’s special about Ithaca.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.